As we age, our bones begin to erode, which to some extent is normal and a natural result of aging. However, some of us lose so much bone that our skeletons become weakened and deformed and in severe cases we incur loss of bone density in multiple places.
That is osteoporosis, and it frequently causes fractures of the hip, spine and forearm. At its worst, bones can become so frail that they can crack and break under the body’s own weight!
The meaning of the term `osteoporosis` originates from `osteo,` which means bone, and `porosis` which implies thinning or becoming more porous. Hence, osteoporosis literally means `thinning of bone.`
Medically speaking, Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone in which the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced which means one has a low bone mass and deteriorating bone tissue.
In simple words, the bones become thin, brittle and may be easily broken.
Bone mass (bone density) is the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. The higher the density the stronger are the bones. Bone density is strongly influenced by genetic factors, which in turn are sometimes modified by environmental factors and medications.
Left untreated osteoporosis can lead to broken bones
If osteoporosis is not prevented in the early stages or if left untreated, it can progress painlessly until the bone tends to break. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.
The fracture caused by osteoporosis can be either in the form of cracking (as in a hip fracture), or collapsing (as in a compression fracture of the vertebrae of the spine). Though the spine, hips, and wrists are common areas of osteoporosis-related bone fractures, almost any skeletal bone area is susceptible to osteoporosis-related fracture.
The consequences of osteoporosis may impair a person for life. A hip fracture may impair a person`s ability to walk and may cause permanent disability or even death despite hospitalization and major surgery. The Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.
Osteoporosis can cause a person to stoop forward and appear to have a hump on his or her spine. While osteoporosis occurs in men and pre-menopausal women, the problem is predominant among postmenopausal women.
Anyone can get osteoporosis, but women are more likely to get it than men. They have lighter bones than men, and they lose bone rapidly after menopause, because their bodies are producing less estrogen. But men aren`t immune, especially if they drink heavily, smoke or have taken steroid drugs.
But your bones don`t have to crack under the strain of this disease. You can slow, stop or even reverse bone loss.
One natural remedy for osteoporosisis is fish oil containing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and GLA (gamma linolenic acid), which not only are effective safeguards against osteoporosis, but also improve the skin and brain function and avoid cardiovascular problems.
Light exercise is also recommended, such as walking, dancing, aerobics or bouncing on trampolines. Calcium and magnesium supplements, in the ratio of 2 or 3: 1 respectively, would also help increase bone density.
Causes for Loss of Bone Density and Strength
Excess phosphorus intake through drinking too many sodas, particularly colas, causes the body to balance this phosphorus by drawing calcium from the bones.
Magnesium deficiency is a huge factor for osteoporosis. Magnesium is actually more important than calcium for bone growth and bone density. As many as 90 percent or more of us are deficient in magnesium.
Among women the deficiency of Estrogen (a group of hormones) post menopause has been correlated to a rapid reduction in BMD.
The increased risk of falling associated with aging, leads to fractures of the wrist, spine and hip, and in many instances the fall is actually caused by the breaking of a bone when taking a step, especially when stepping downward on stairs or stepping off porches.
Other hormone deficiency states can lead to osteoporosis, such as testosterone deficiency. Glucocorticoid or thyroxine excess states also lead to osteoporosis.
Not eating foods rich in Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorous can also cause bone loss. Calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency from malnutrition also increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Some medicines can inhibit the body`s ability to absorb calcium. This may cause the bones to weaken. These medications include cortisone/corticosteroids, anticoagulants, thyroid supplements, and some anti-convulsive drugs.
Other illnesses or diseases, such as over-active thyroid, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may also cause bone loss. A disease such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia can cause changes in a person`s estrogen level and lead to osteoporosis.
Other significant factors leading to the onset of osteoporosis include: smoking cigarettes, high intake of alcohol, tea or coffee, low levels of physical activity (weight bearing exercise), and family history.
Sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in osteoporosis. Exercise strengthens bones – inactivity encourages the body not to rebuild unused resources.
Consuming too much fat in our diets can contribute to osteoporosis as well. Vegetarians are shown to have greater bone mass than meat eaters.
Excess alcohol consumption interferes with calcium absorption.
Drinking too much coffee. A study of 84,484 patients showed a correlation between bone fractures and heavy coffee consumption.
The evidence is overwhelming that smoking, particularly heavy smoking, boosts bone loss.
A lack of natural vitamin D, which can be obtained by exposure (not over-exposure) to sunlight, is also an important factor in bone loss.
Not enough Vitamin K in the system is an often overlooked contributor to osteoporosis. New research has shown that this little known vitamin is the key to calcium balance in the body.
Trace minerals, which most of us are deficient in due to our mineral depleted soils, are necessary for the transport and absorption of calcium.
Prescription drugs can increase bone loss. These include cortisone, blood thinners, antacids containing aluminum, chemotherapy, lithium, and certain antibiotics.
Birth control pills reduce the folic acid content in the body.
Excess consumption of dairy products actually causes bone loss, contrary to what many might believe. This is due to the high animal fat content in dairy products, and the lack of CLA in modern dairy products.
Excess salt and sugar consumption in junk foods leach calcium from the bones into the urine.
Fluorides destroy collagen, the glue which adds strength to the bones.
Exercise to Build Strong Bones
Exercise aerobically for 20 minutes a day at least three days a week. The best aerobic exercise for strong bones is one you will continue doing, because if you don`t do it for life, the bone-building benefits fade.
Exercise for at least thirty minutes using weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging, three times a week. This regime has been proven to increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of falls by strengthening the major muscle groups in the legs and back. You may prefer running, biking, swimming or aerobic dance classes. Aim for quality, not quantity, when you exercise.
Walking in chest-deep water for about 30 minutes at least three times a week is a suggested remedy, especially if you`ve already had a fracture or two, since the water will help support your body weight and take stress off bones and joints. Work yourself up to 30 minutes at least three times a week.
Make your “exercise equipment” a chair and the floor. To complement water walking, do some easy muscle -strengthening exercises in a chair or on the floor. Such exercises can include abdominal curls, shoulder blade squeezes and back extensions.
To do back extensions, lie on the floor on your stomach, with a pillow under your hips and your arms at your sides. Using only your back muscles, not your arms, raise your upper body a few inches off the floor. Hold for as long as comfortable, then relax downward. Work up to doing this six to ten times a day.
Handling Osteoporosis Without Medications
Vary your diet. Bones are not made from calcium alone. Instead, bones are an amalgam that includes various minerals such as zinc, boron and copper.
These trace elements can be ingested through a varied and broad-based diet that includes mostly unprocessed foods, such as whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish and lean meat.
Foods high in boron (a mineral that helps the body hold calcium) are beneficial for those affected by osteoporosis. Boron is found in apples, pears, grapes and other fruit, as well as in legumes, nuts and honey. Manganese is another beneficial mineral. Traces of manganese are largely found in pineapples, nuts, spinach, beans and whole wheat.
Bones need nourishment from calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and phosphorous. A poor diet lacking these essential vitamins and minerals contributes to osteoporosis.
Foods rich in calcium are especially necessary to maintaining healthy bones. Dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt), salmon, sardines, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli are good sources of calcium. It is recommended that one should include 1500mg of calcium daily either via dietary means or via supplementation. For measurement purposes, it is important to note that an 8 oz glass of milk contains approximately 300 mg of calcium.
Calcium supplements are an effective alternative option. These come in a variety of forms. The body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at one time and so intake should be spread throughout the day.
Magnesium is essential for good bone growth and density. The recommended daily minimums are 320 mg for women and 400 for men, but optimum daily amounts are more like 500 to 700 mg. Dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables and nuts, but it is difficult to get enough magnesium through diet alone so supplementation is advised for most people. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people do not get enough magnesium daily and that over 90% of the US population is magnesium deficient.
Brussels sprouts are known to prevent diseases like cancer, birth defects, osteoporosis and heart trouble. Brussels sprouts provide essential vitamin K (this vitamin activates a protein found in bones, called osteocalcin, which holds calcium molecules in place) helps protect against osteoporosis.
Change your life style by quitting cigarette smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and exercising regularly. It is important to note that a few studies have suggested an adverse effect of calcium excess on bone density and reports indicate the milk industry has been misleading customers. It has been reported that excess consumption of dairy products may cause acification, which leeches calcium from the system. Therefore, it is claimed that vegetables and nuts are a better source of calcium and milk products are better avoided. It is noteworthy to observe that man alone continues to drink milk after the age of weaning and one has only to look at cows, which get all of their calcium from grass and vegetable forage and have some of the largest and strongest bones of any animal.
Monitor your medications. Some drugs can hasten bone loss. Those most likely to cause problems: corticosteroids, which are prescribed for a variety of conditions such as rheumatic disorders, allergic conditions and respiratory disease; L-thyroxine, a thyroid medication; and furosemide, a diuretic often used against fluid retention associated with high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Avoid colas and other carbonated soft drinks which get their sharp taste from phosphoric acid, which contains phosphorus, a mineral that in excess amounts causes your body to excrete calcium.
Salt lightly, and choose healthy sea salt for added minerals. As with phosphorus, too much salt causes your body to excrete calcium. Avoid products with more than 300 milligrams of salt per serving.
Almond Milk is calcium rich and a good remedy to help with osteoporosis is calcium-rich almond milk. One can have the almond milk by soaking the almonds in warm water, peeling and blending them with either cow`s milk or better still, goat`s milk. Drink only raw organic milk.
Herbs That Can Help Osteoporosis
Dandelion Tea helps build bone density.
Red Clover has been shown to improve bone mineral density (it also lowers LDL cholesterol).
Chaste Berry contains vitexicarpin and vitricin, which help to keep hormone levels in balance. It is advisable to take at least 250 mg a day of a standardized extract of this herb for two to three months.
Dong Quai has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is advisable to take 250 mg of a standardized extract of dong quai daily as a tonic herb.
A recent study indicates that the popular herb Black Cohosh may help prevent osteoporosis. Most studies recommend an intake of either 20 or 40 mg of black cohosh extract twice a day.
A handful of sesame seeds had every morning may also help osteoporosis.
Dietary Supplementation Tips for Osteoporosis
Aim for maximum absorption. Spread your calcium supplements out over the day rather than taking them all at once.
Magnesium, calcium and phosphorus are all essential for proper bone growth and density. Try to get 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium, even if you haven`t reached menopause. And they suggest 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams a day for postmenopausal women who are not getting ERT.
Most women consume far less than those amounts. Reaching 1,000 milligrams through diet alone means drinking a quart of skim milk a day or eating two cups of low-fat yogurt or four cups of low-fat cottage cheese.
Figure out, realistically, how much calcium you can get through your diet, then make up the rest with supplements. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach are excellent sources of calcium.
Get enough vitamin D. For maximum protection, aim for 600 international units of vitamin D per day (three times the Recommended Dietary Allowance).
Plant derived trace minerals are the best source of invaluable trace minerals. Minerals are the building blocks of the enzymes necessary for the utilization of all other vitamins, etc. (rock minerals are a waste of money since only 5-15% can be broken down by the body before being eliminated. Minerals already digested by plants are potentially 100% absorbable.
Glucosamine, Chondrotin, and Collagen are important for bone and joint health (and all of these are available in a product called Liquid Life Joint Care, which also contains aloe and bovine colostrum).
Silica (from horsetail and/or shavegrass) works with calcium to maintain strong bones and is especially effective in combination with GTF Chromium.
GTF Chromium (GTF Chromium is a complex known as Glucose Tolerance Factor and is made by fermenting nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) with chromium.
Inositol/IP6 modulates the behavior of bone-forming and bone-destroying cells to help prevent osteoporosis.
Besides being an excellent pathogen destroyer, Colloidal Silver also helps bone, tissue and nerve regeneration.
Caution: Do not take bone drugs for osteoporosis. Evidence has shown that they produce abnormal bone growth and actually make bones more brittle. They also can have serious and even life threatening side effects!
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